*Image: Mural was painted by Argentinian artist Ricardo Cinalli, who toldthe Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, that the naked people in the nets are meant to be “erotic.”
The Pontifical Academy for Life is no longer what it was under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Under its present leader, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the Academy has undertaken some irresponsible initiatives, but none worse than the recently published collection of essays with the Italian title Etica Teologica della Vita (Theological Ethics of Life). Moral theory is the rational framework by which moral questions are considered and resolved. It’s utterly central to Catholic moral theology because if your moral theory is bad, your conclusions about right and wrong will frequently be bad and so will the acts that are directed by those conclusions.
One of the more irresponsible of its twenty-two essays, by a German scholar, Sigrid Müller, provides a window into the Academy’s present approach to moral theory. Müller sets out to explain what she refers to as “developments” in Catholic moral theory since Vatican II. Her essay is an out-and-out attack on universal moral norms.
John Paul II’s moral magisterium, as typified in chapter two of his 1993 Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor (VS), centered around one principal goal: the refutation and condemnation of errors in moral theology that lead to a rejection of the Catholic Church’s definitive teaching on the existence of intrinsically evil acts and universal moral norms.
He insists that there exist such norms, “universally valid and always binding,” “valid for all people of the present and the future, as for those of the past.” (VS 53) Unsound theories reject those norms, theories that “maintain that it is never possible to formulate an absolute prohibition of particular kinds of behavior which would be in conflict [with human goods], in every circumstance and in every culture.” (VS 75) …
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